Most folks looking for their dream home have a good idea what they want…a mountain estate with panoramic vistas, or perhaps a country cottage with a colorful garden. One of the great advantages of shopping for a home in Boquete is the range of properties on offer, from custom villas to affordable family homes, and everything in between.
Boquete is the premier expat and retiree destination in the highlands of Panama. The name applies to both the small hamlet resting in an ancient volcanic formation and to the larger surrounding district, home to about 25,000 residents. It’s located in Chiriqui Province in western Panama, not far from the border with Costa Rica, on the eastern-facing side of Volcán Barú, Panama’s highest peak (11,400 feet) and only volcano.
One of the best reasons to live in Boquete is the climate, and many will tell you it’s perfect. The town’s elevation of about 3,500 feet provides fresh weather all year, with residents describing it as ”eternal springtime.” Daytime temperatures range from 75 F to 85 F and at night it cools to 60 F to 70 F, so you’ll need a sweater.
This area gets plenty of rainfall, including a frequent gentle mist known as bajareque, which leads us to Boquete’s other blessing—its stunning natural beauty. The warm sunshine, abundant rainfall, and rich soil make this region super lush and fertile. There’s tremendous variety in the foliage, from eucalyptus to pine trees and bougainvillea to poinsettias. No wonder it’s known as Panama’s breadbasket, with coffee plants amongst banana stalks and orange groves alongside onion fields.
But it’s the outstanding community and affordable cost of living that keeps people in Boquete. The expats in Boquete are active and engaged locally, involved with civic groups, clubs and volunteer opportunities galore.
There are also plenty of outdoor activities all year round with numerous hiking trails through the Volcán Barú National Park, past waterfalls, and up to the summit of the mountain. White-water rafting, bird-watching, horseback riding and even a zipline through the canopy are close by.
If a highland hacienda appeals to you, then you’ll find some in the hills just outside town, like one I saw recently—a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home on almost half an acre for $299,000. In addition to the main house there’s a second one-bedroom, one-bathroom dwelling that’s perfect for extended family, an employee, or a rental. It comes with colorful flowers, fruit and shade trees, and even a bubbling stream.
For outstanding views of the volcano, head farther up the hill just outside the town. There I found a two-bedroom, three-bathroom home on the market with views of the volcano, the valley below, and all the way to the Pacific Ocean. With an open-floor plan with lots of big windows and a wide terrace that stretches across the back of the house, you can fully enjoy the gorgeous setting. It’s fully furnished, ready to move in, and is on the market for $350,000.
But maybe you’re looking for something smaller, and considering a condo. Boquete has a number of residential developments featuring condos and villas. Within walking distance of downtown Boquete, I found a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $185,000 in a great location. The large, well-appointed property, has a popular restaurant that sits alongside a stream, and the view from the condo’s balcony is lovely.
One of the most prestigious addresses in Boquete is El Valle Escondido. In addition to several types of residences, Valle Escondido has its own water supply, gardens, a trout farm, golf course, spa and much more. Home prices are higher in this expat enclave, but you can still find good values. Currently on offer is a five-bedroom, four-bath villa with 15-foot ceilings listed for $499,000. It features guest quarters with a separate entrance, high quality furnishings and appliances, and your own private Jacuzzi.
Living in Boquete, a couple can manage comfortably on $1,500 a month. You’ll find low utility costs, no heating or A/C bills, affordable medical care and insurance coverage, and the good-value real estate to go with it.
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